Amber Waves of Grain

Amber Waves of Grain

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Life is Amazing ... And It's Awful

Life is amazing.
And it's awful.
And in between the amazing and the awful,
it's ordinary and mundane
and routine.
Breathe in the amazing,
hold on through the awful
and relax and exhale
during the ordinary.
That's just living.
amazing, ordinary life.
And it's breathtakingly beautiful.
L.R. Knost

Not too long ago, I saw the prose by Knost on a friend's Facebook page. And I thought about how it so poetically describes this season of life - and death - on the farm.
We are in the "heart" of calving season on The County Line. (And, yes, the pun is intended with this cute little calf who sports his own heart - not on his sleeve, but on his chest.)
There's not a whole lot cuter than baby calves - except granddaughters, of course.
We are about halfway done with the population boom along The County Line.
Most of the baby calves and their mamas do well.
It's a delight to watch the babies scamper across the lots or pasture, kind of like kids playing tag. It's a miracle to watch the mamas instinctively care for their babies.
In the scheme of things, I suppose we take that for granted.
 But sometimes there's a back story - a story that doesn't have a happy ending. Or it may take a whole lot of extra work.
This guy was born at our Peace Creek pasture.
The mama tried ...
My favorite cattleman tried. I helped, too.
But, despite the teamwork, the calf didn't make it.

Today, I'd planned a blog post about how all our efforts for another baby calf were paying off. But, the story has a different ending than we'd planned.

We were trying to save the surviving twin born to heifer No. 880. One of the twins died at birth.
The surviving twin was smaller than normal. And because the calf was having trouble sucking, Randy milked the heifer.
Thankfully, the mama was patient. After a few days, she pretty much directed herself into the head gate in the calving shed to be milked.
At first, we had to tube feed the baby.
Getting a little warm milk in its belly helped perk it up a bit, but it still just wanted to be lazy.
It was finally strong enough to get up on its feet. But it still had trouble finding the right end of the heifer for the "faucet." It still didn't have much power - or interest - in sucking.
It progressed to bottle feeding, so it was getting better at sucking. 
Each morning, we'd let the mama out into the heifer lot for feed and water. Then, at night, we'd bring her back into the calving shed to try again. 
Kinley and Brooke will be here later this week and then the whole family will be here this coming weekend. We thought they'd enjoy the bottle-feeding process. We had planned to continue to bottle feed the little calf through the weekend, then take it to the sale barn, where we hoped a little 4-Her would need a bucket calf project. I laughed and told Randy that he was letting family influence his cattle management decisions.

But, Monday morning, Randy found that the calf had died overnight. So the hopeful story - contrasting life and death - suddenly became a lot less joyful.

I realize the death of a calf does not come close to the death of a beloved family member. We learned about the death of such a father and much-respected community member to cancer that same morning. Another rural family I know of via the blogging world is dealing with their son's paralysis after a skiing accident. There are many others recovering from surgery or facing other challenges - whether they be physical, mental or spiritual. This little story about a calf can't compare to these human trials.

But as I read the tributes to the man who lost his battle with cancer and I saw more posts of support for that family as their son continues rehab sessions, I thought more about it. Life is amazing. And it's awful. And then it's ordinary and mundane.
God calls us to all of it in the different seasons of our days and lives. He also calls us to keep our eyes on the amazing and beautiful - even in the messy, awful parts of the journey. And He asks us to help carry the load for others along the way.


  1. Thanks for a good cry at my desk this morning Kim. Sometimes we need a story like this to put life in perspective. I am still very very sad about the calves.

    1. Thanks, Jan. It's a hard reality on the farm. I hated to have to tell the girls.

  2. The words of LR Knost are beautiful and very fitting for the story of life being lived here at present. I hope you don't loose any more calves.

    1. I hope we don't either. Thanks for the good wishes!